Hewlett-Packard (HP) could lay off European employees as part of the company's decision to discontinue its webOS hardware division, including the Touchpad tablet range.
HP announced plans to wind down its webOS hardware to concentrate on its enterprise software strategy in August 2011. The company will discontinue development of webOS devices by the end of its fiscal year 2011.
As a result, lay-offs are being made within HP's US-based webOS group. HP's European webOS operation could be also be reduced.
In a statement, HP said: "We cannot comment on the impact in Europe until we have consulted with the appropriate employee representative bodies. We will work to redeploy employees from the webOS team in Europe into other roles within HP where possible."
The statement also confirmed the company's commitment to webOS customers. "HP is exploring ways to leverage webOS software," it said.
HP is to manufacture one last run of its Touchpad tablet. In a company blog post, HP spokesman Mark Budgell said: "We don't know exactly when these units will be available or how many we'll get, and we can't promise we'll have enough for everyone. We do know that it will be at least a few weeks before you can purchase."
Internet reports suggest HP will lay off more than 500 employees globally as a result of ditching webOS operations.
Analyst firm Juniper Research predicts nearly a fifth of annual tablet shipments will reach the enterprise space by 2016, driven by Microsoft's Windows 8 OS running on tablet devices. Tablet shipments are expected to reach 253 million in 2016, a five-fold increase compared with 2011 shipments.